There were notably three portions to Steve Jobs’ commencement speech at Stanford: connecting the dots, love and loss, and the notion of death.
For many years, many associates and family members have questioned my goal of completing five majors in community college. Their arguments were that it would take forever to accomplish, and that I was wasting time by staying in school for so long. To be honest, at the time, I didn’t see how my majors would mix together, but I knew I loved learning from those subjects.
When I found myself as a software engineer at NASA, my boss noticed I had a wide away of interests and focuses, and she was instrumental in connecting my own dots together. Although my primary job at NASA was to develop web applications, I soon found myself using my psychology, sociology, and social sciences knowledge running a lab part-time where we studied 3D cockpit displays for 747 airplanes.
The concept of human factors or human computer interaction (which tied parts of my CS and psychology knowledge together) came later when my boss urged me to attend a seminar presented by cognitive scientist Don Norman, who talked about product design, and emotions – the very core of what I was interested in, but never fully realized it until then.
The dots were beginning to connect, but all of them came together to draw a picture when I reached Stanford, working in the psychiatry labs doing emotions research. I found my CS knowledge was extremely handy in designing programs to analyze and collect data, and that my psychology and sociology knowledge bridged me to researchers and the data they collected.
Even though NASA was paying me more at the time, I found myself really enjoying what I did at Stanford, and left NASA to continue on emotions research. I’ve been there for two years, and have recently left as an employee. However, I truly enjoyed what I’ve been doing there, that I’m a continuing volunteer. I love learning about emotions, and its relation to life itself.
I’ve never pictured myself living beyond thirty, but that’s probably because I’m too young right now. But, I always feel that my time is limited, that I need to change people, and the world NOW, as opposed to later. It’s why I’ve taken on many opportunities that have come to me, even in the times where it feels seemingly impossible to accomplish.
No one regrets my decisions anymore, and I don’t regret the awkward path I’ve taken in my life with respect to college. It’s true that I’ll probably graduate when I’m twenty-six or even twenty-seven, but my life feels fulfilling in many ways, and many people are genuinely interested in having me incorporated into their futures.
I’m frequently asked nowadays, “What do you plan to do in the future?”, and the honest answer is, “I don’t know.”
Those kinds of answers are often scary, but when I say this response, I say it with utmost confidence. I’m not afraid of not knowing my future, because I know even greater things lie in it; I can accomplish anything because I am up to discovering, and conditioning my mind for that future.
I know I’ll live beyond thirty, but I want to keep this mindset, because I want to live as if everyday was my last.